Thursday, February 28, 2013

Swedish Adventures: March-ing On

Today is the last day of February and the first day that I have seen the sun...dare I say that spring has finally arrived in Stockholm? But more importantly, how have two months passed by so quickly?!

Can one be depressed without realizing they were depressed? Looking back, I think sometime between Marta's visit and my excursion to Denmark, I must have unwittingly been caught by the frozen grip of the Sweden's unforgiving winter. Dark lonely nights coupled with confusing forays into Swedish dating would nudge any sane(over-thinking) mind down the slippery slope of self-pity, insecurity and pure disgruntled pessimism.

But now, as I sit outside during my lunch break with the soft rays of sunlight warming my face, I feel that something else is being warmed…. my soul perhaps? My negativity seems to have retreated along with the melting snow, and I am remembering why I came to Stockholm in the first place-to LIVE, to LEARN, to LOVE, to experience a new culture, to push my boundaries...

With all that said, March is a new month, my last month, in beautiful(now sunny) Scandi. So yes! with my new found optimism I have plotted my remaining time here:

3/1: Hellsgården Sauna by Lake Källtorpssiön
3/2: Skansen Open-air Museum on Djurgården Island
3/3: Fotographiska Museum, Vassar Museum(Vasamseet)

3/8: Ice Bar
3/9: SVMK Fest!
3/10: Kungliga Slottet(Royal Palace) 12:15 changing of the guards, Hilma af Klint Exhibit at Moderna Museet

3/16-17: Would like to see Oslo but if I don't have time/money then a Weekend Cruise to Estonia!(why not?)
Archipelgo Boat Tour, Sky Globe Cafe(Skyview ride), UpplevMer Roof-Walking tour

3/20: Lund
3/22: Malmö
3/23-24: Copenhagen

3/29-30Last weekend in Stockholm = PARTY TIME! wooo!

4/2: Hello Chicago :)

PS- Have faith, my friends! Any remaining gloom in my system will surely be cleansed tomorrow-as I sauna(naked!) and then sit(still naked!) in an ice hole on the FROZEN Lake Källtorpssiön...

"Puss"- Ran

Copenhagen, Denmark
(Beautiful! but inexplicably colder than Stockholm)

Song of the Day:
"Cloud-Winter Nights(Nordic Lounge)"

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dumpling Class

Hej !

I created the following dumpling making guide in response to popular demand from my coworkers after my mom and I hand made 200+ dumplings for my office. Apparently every intern cooks a traditional meal from their native it presumptuous of me to assume my lunch was the best? But to be fair, who doesn't love a perfectly steamed dumpling on a cold winter day?! 

A Complete Guide to Mommy Ma’s Dumplings


Dumplings in China are called Jiaozi(). They are finely chopped meat and vegetable fillings wrapped inside a thin sheet of dough and crimped together around the edges. While dumplings are enjoyed throughout the year, they are traditionally served at midnight on Chinese New Years. There are several explanations for the practice but one of the most popular theories states that the shape of dumplings resembles the old currency of silver and gold ingots used in historical times, and therefor eating dumplings on CNYs symbolizes wealth for the family. And for a bit of fun(especially in Northern cities), a small coin may be folded into one of the dumplings and the person who finds the coin is regarded as the having the most luck in the new year!

To Master the Art of the Dumpling:

There are MANY variations of dumpling fillings(some more traditional than others). I have included the recipe for one of my family’s favorite fillings- “Pork and Mushroom”, but once you have mastered the basics of dumpling making, you can get creative and change up the ingredients to suit your taste!
Some traditional ingredient choices include: ground pork, baby shrimp skins, Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, celery, leek, and eggs.
“Pork and Mushroom” Dumpling filling:

All the measurements below are VERY approximate, I would recommend cooking a couple “tester” dumplings to finetune the taste of your filling.

8 dried shitake mushrooms – soaked-20mins with hot water- and finely chopped OR you can use fresh shitake mushrooms
200g pork mince/ground
1/2 of Chinese cabbage finely chopped**
2 tsp finely minced ginger
4 shoots of finely chopped green onions
4 tsp soy sauce
4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1 egg white(helps dry ingredients stick together)
Salt and pepper to taste

**Add salt to the chopped cabbage and let it sit for about 20 minutes – this draws the liquid out of the cabbage. Then, gently squeeze the cabbage to remove any additional liquid and drain. You should end up with half the original size of the cabbage.

Combines ingredients and mix well in large bowl and set aside

Dumpling Skin:

You can hand roll the dumpling skins or I recommend purchasing the premade dumpling skins(Asian Market).

Set aside a bowl of equal parts Chinese Corn Flour(Trading East Wang) and water- or you can use any corn flour

Dumpling Dipping Sauce:

Equal parts Soy Sauce and Chinese vinegar(Chinkiang Vinegar)
If you like it spicy, then mix in some Chinese hot sauce (LaoGanMa)

**Note on folding dumplings:
Hopefully, you are now an expert dumpling folder thanks to my live demonstration at lunch :) But in case you missed it, here is a nice video demonstrating the classic way to fold Chinese dumplings(watch the girl on the left, and don’t worry if your initial dumplings end up more like the ones made by the girl on the right).

Basic Steps:
1.   Put filling in center of dumpling skin
2.   Wet edges of skin with cornflour/water mixture
3.   Pinch together the middle edges of skin
4.   Double pleat one outer corner of skin
5.   Double pleat the other outer corner of skin(make sure the pleats are facing the same side)
6.   Firmly pinch together the top edge of dumpling and push filling towards the center(this step is crucial to ensure that the dumpling stays intact during cooking)
7.   Lightly(very lightly) dust completed dumplings w corn flour to prevent them from sticking together

Now that you have worked so hard to make delicious homemade dumplings, you can cook them fresh or cool them in the fridge and then freeze and enjoy a later date. :) 

Three Ways to Cook Chinese Dumplings:

Boiling Dumplings

You can boil both fresh and frozen dumplings. Do not thaw frozen dumplings when boiling.

1.   Start by bringing a big pot of water to boil, add your dumplings, then immediately stir them so they don't stick together.

2.   Bring the water back to a boil and as soon as the dumplings start to float to the top, add a cup of cold water. The reason for this has to do with the filling inside. Most likely inside is still raw so you add the cold water to slow down the cooking process of the dough so it doesn't break apart while allowing the filler to finish cooking.

3.   Continue to cook until those wonderful dumplings start floating again. Now add another a cup of cold water and wait till they float again.

4.   When done, remove them from the pot with a Chinese strainer or a slotted spoon. Be careful not to place them on top of each other or they will stick and break apart.

Pan-Frying Dumplings

If you pan-fry a dumpling, they are called Pot Stickers(锅贴). Why? Because when frying, the bottom sticks to the bottom of the pan making them crisp and delicious. Also, when pan-frying dumplings, you don't want to cook frozen ones. You want to be sure to defrost them or they will burn.

1.   In a large nonstick pan, add a tablespoon of corn or vegetable oil and heat it up. Add as many dumplings as you can that will fit into the pan in a single layer without a lot of touch feely going on. Now for the interesting part.

2.   Add 1/2 cup of cold water to the pan over the dumplings, cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Don't even think about flipping them or checking them out. Let them cook until all the water is cooked off and the dumplings are golden and crisp on the bottom. If they are not golden and crisp on the bottom, continue to cook until they are. When done, remove and serve or start another batch.

Steaming Dumplings

You'll need a traditional Chinese bamboo steamer(or metal steamer) and a wok.

1.   Bring 3 cups of water in the wok on high heat to a boil.

2.   Brush some cooking oil on the steamer surface to prevent sticking. Lay the frozen or fresh dumplings on the steamer.

3.   Put the steamer with the lid on the wok, over the boiling water. Keep on high heat, and steam for 8 minutes. Your dumplings are now ready.

YES! Now you have officially Mastered the Art of the Dumpling! I hope you have enjoyed my guide and don’t forget to serve your dumplings with your favorite dipping sauce!

然-A Happily Full Nomad

Asian Grocery Stores in Stockholm:
East Trading Wang
Olof Palmes gata 7,
T-bana: Hötorget, Stockholm, Tel. 08-212838.

Asian Market
Olof palmes gata 12
111 37 Stockholm

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